No weapon used, but victim was punched and choked
Two young men who had been friends since boyhood became adversaries after they started using illegal drugs together, a court heard.
On Thursday, Matthew Grant received a sentence of two years’ imprisonment for robbery, but Justice Charles Quin suspended that term for two years after hearing mitigation from defense attorney John Furniss and facts from Crown counsel Candia James.
Mr. Furniss advised that the victim did not wish to proceed with the matter and pointed out that Grant had always admitted what he had done. Ms. James said a medical report indicated that the injuries received – abrasions and bruises – were not serious and not likely to be permanent.
Grant, now 25, and his victim had known each other for about 16 years. They hung out together and consumed ganja and cocaine together, Ms. James told the court. At some point, Grant accused his friend and another man of owing him money for drugs. He asked him for the money on several occasions.
On June 25, 2014, the friend and another man were walking along Watercourse Road in West Bay when a car pulled up alongside them. Grant was in the car, his girlfriend was driving, and there was another male passenger.
The victim and his companion ran off; Grant and the male with him gave chase. Then the victim fell and Grant told his companion to hold him while Grant began searching him and hitting him in the back of the neck.
Grant told his girlfriend to look in the victim’s socks and she recovered cash in excess of $200. Ms. James said the amount was in dispute, but would not impact sentence. Grant began choking his victim, accusing him of lying.
After the incident, the injured man ran from the scene but collapsed. Someone in the area called police and an ambulance. The victim was taken to hospital and treated.
The girlfriend and the other man were not charged.
Mr. Furniss confirmed that the victim was still in the Drug Rehabilitation Court, but Grant was no longer in it because of noncompliance. He said his client had been considerably affected by his brother’s death in a traffic accident. The drug court team had given him time to see how he was coping, but there were problems with motivation. The robbery incident has been “something of a wake-up call to get his life in order,” the attorney suggested.
Justice Quin noted from the social inquiry report that Grant had played semi-professional football in England, earning 150 pounds per week. The report described him as a bright, educated, physically fit young man who had no previous convictions for violence or dishonesty. Then he got involved in drugs.
The seriousness of the offense meant that the threshold for custody had been crossed, the judge said, but he accepted that it was a spontaneous action and no weapon was used. He also accepted Grant’s remorse and determination to change his ways.
He handed down the two-year sentence and suspended it for two years, during which time Grant will be under a supervision order. “If you commit another offense, it’s straight to prison,” he told the defendant.
His words were not just another lecture, he warned, but a real last chance. “Get a job, get back on the football field … You could even be coaching younger players,” Justice Quin urged. “Don’t fall back. Drugs are the road to nowhere but trouble and prison.”